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Day for Night: A Novel Hardcover – April 26, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A novel with a sawbuck of narrators could easily devolve into an unreadable mess, but in Reiken's (The Lost Legends of New Jersey) able hands becomes a compelling tale in which one thread deftly connects 10 people. Beverly Rabinowitz, a middle-aged New Jersey doctor born in Poland during WWII, is taking a vacation trip to Florida with her cancer-stricken boyfriend, David. Beverly's musings while on her trip introduce four characters who will later become narrators: Jordan, David's son; Tim Birdsey, a tour guide/musician; Dee, the lead singer in Birdsey's band; and Jennifer, Beverly's oldest daughter. Characters continue to appear: FBI agent Leopold Sachs; Miriam, a childhood friend and an analyst; Vicki, a veterinarian; and Amnon Grossman, an Israeli soldier accused of murdering a Palestinian boy. The story moves dizzyingly through Florida, Utah, New Jersey, and Israel, among other places, and includes plot lines involving fugitives from justice, the Holocaust, and the Palestinian/Israeli conflicts—all illustrating that observations depend on the observer. An imaginative and exciting read. (May)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Reiken follows two acclaimed novels with an intricate, subtly fantastic, six-degrees-of-separation tale shaped by the beauty, continuity, and mystery of nature. During a 1984 trip to Florida, a widowed marine biologist swims among tolerant manatees with his pediatrician girlfriend, a Polish Jew who fled the Nazis. Their young-dude guide, Tim, of German descent, accompanies his bandmate Dee, whose wealthy Utah family is part of a violent cult, on a clandestine visit to see her brother, who is in a coma after surviving a motorcycle accident in Israel. On the plane, Tim sits next to a tall, reserved woman, who may be a 1960s radical turned fugitive from justice with mystical powers. A Massachusetts veterinarian suffering from severe allergies ends up in Israel, where a man working at a nature reserve . . .Well, it’s an entrancing and profoundly complicated tale Reiken tells as he slowly reveals the submerged connections among his intriguing characters while sustaining psychological sophistication, suspense, shrewd humor, and many-tiered compassion. Reiken’s novel of miraculous survival and discovery embraces the earth’s splendor, humankind’s capacity for good and evil, and the fact that we are all linked and that much is concealed within our oceanic psyches. --Donna Seaman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (April 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316077569
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316077569
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,639,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
`Maybe it's only trick of language, but the word life or death alone could not be understood without awareness of the other. It is the same for light and dark, for day and night, for good and evil.' [Page 196]

I believe that this book is meant to be read by mature individuals - those very people who have experienced life, questioned it, coped with adversity, and survived. If you are a young person, and by this I am referring to someone, perhaps, in his or her twenties or thirties, do read this book. However, please keep it to be read again later in life.

While reading `Day for Night, I experienced a mysterious and magical travel in time. Suddenly, I was in my paternal grandmother's kitchen. She was speaking to me in her native language, as she usually did. However, she was not saying very much for she seldom did. Everything was a mystery, and somehow, this was okay with me. I think that my childhood prepared me to understand this book.

Readers, most likely, will seek answers to the puzzles presented in `Day for Night.' I read, and I read. Then, I sobbed. I knew the answers would come to me quietly, perhaps, suddenly. Most of my questions were answered.

I do believe that if anyone is able to understand how millions of innocent people - Jewish people - could be corralled, sent to concentration camps and systematically be killed, then there are no mysteries.

In `Day for Night,' the reader is informed that in 1941 five hundred Jewish [male] intellectuals are gathered together, in Kovno, thinking one thing. They may escape mass execution. Instead, they are slaughtered leaving behind families. Again, if a reader is fully able to comprehend this history, then there are no mysteries.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The cover of the book, of a carousel submerged into an ocean, the tip visible, is a stunning metaphor of the book itself, as well as a literal scene in one of the book's early chapters. It represents our continuing, revolving narratives, partly hidden from our consciousness, the ocean a repository of life and death, a connection to all. The horse is totemic, an aid to self-discovery and understanding of our past, as well as glimpses into our future.

The title is undoubtedly taken from Francois Truffaut's superb movie, whose theme is that movies are more important than life for those that make them. In the book's context, it is the narratives that make up our lives. And what are narratives but the integration of the deepest memories that have broken up like shards and scattered, or hidden in our deepest and repressed recesses? Our narratives don't exist in isolation; the stories travel, the voices make up our universal experiences and nourish our shared humanity. We are a latticework of voices.

Reiken's novel consists of ten narratives. In each one, a character is brought into focus, their individual story highlighted. Most characters reappear in several of the other narratives, sometimes in the background, or in counterpoint, or even as a parallel. The core story underpinning all of the narratives is a story of survival during the Holocaust. Five hundred Polish-Jewish men in Soviet-occupied Lithuania were promised jobs as intellectuals, as archivists. When they assembled, they were killed. The story has taken on a fable-like history, the fable being that two of the men have survived. These two men are related to the present-day narrators in some way, either directly or through six degrees (or less!) of separation.
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Format: Hardcover
Take a woman vacationing in Florida ... and her wildlife guide there ... and his band's female lead singer ... and her comatose brother -- and when you finally look up you'll discover you've followed Frederick Reiken's tangent-filled narrative nearly 100 pages into his terrific third novel. And you haven't yet gotten to a half-dozen other interesting characters.

DAY FOR NIGHT is a literary mystery of coincidences and connections. Its ten chapters (each nearly a short story) are told from different points of view, exploring characters' deep backstories and linking them into a growing story in progress. It calls to mind the TV series Lost and the film Crash -- the chains of events that lead people to meet and interact and discover amazing things.

I liked pulling back and considering how the stories were building and how they might all be brought together. And I liked being on each page -- traveling around the USA and to Poland and especially Israel with characters I cared about; spending time in nature and with animals; and exploring an aspect of the Holocaust that I'd not previously encountered. Highly recommended.

(Review based on an advance reading copy provided by the publisher.)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Frederick Reiken is a genius--because only a genius could write this book. Filled with about a dozen+ main characters, the story switches chapter-by-chapter with someone else telling the tale. And as each person's vision of what is happening unfolds, the story also unfolds piece by piece. At the core is a decades-old mystery. At first, it appears that these are seemingly unrelated characters, spanning the globe from Salt Lake City to Israel, the suburbs of New Jersey to war-ravished Poland, from sunny Florida to a German concentration camp. And the genius part is that it not only works without being confusing, but also that it is riveting, fascinating and compelling. Twists, turns and more twists and finally all is revealed and the connections make sense. This is an intellectual treat.
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